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Tomatoes: rust-like blight/fungus/mites? killing my tomatoes

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redxtine
Brooklyn, NY

August 3, 2008
11:29 PM

Post #5364347

Any help will be much appreciated. Something is killing my tomatoes - out of 11 plants, only one is still doing OK, and now it is beginning to show symptoms.
I am in Brooklyn, NYC - this is my third year growing tomatoes in my backyard, and I have not had this problem previously.
I don't believe it is a watering problem, as I have been using a water meter all summer to make sure that I don't over or under water.
I think it is one problem, but it may be two: first, the bottom leaves begin to turn brown and get very dry and crisp. This happens from the part of the leaf closest to the stem and works its way out to the tip of the leaf. The stipule (?) is not affected - just the leaflets.
Then a powdery, rusty looking dust starts growing over the whole plant. Some of the plants have become stunted, and their blossom clusters dry up and fall off. Other plants are fine from the top down, with continued vigorous growth, but the bottom leaves are dried out and dead. I think these plants which are still doing well on the top may have just gotten a better head-start on the season, and the disease has not caught up with them as quickly.
Any ideas as to what it is and if there is anything to be done about it? From some research I have done I think it may be tomato rust mites?
I could only figure out how to post one picture at a time, so I posted the one which best shows the rust/dust stuff.
The brown leaves just look like dead, dried up leaves.
I'm afraid there may not be any hope to save these plants, but I want to make sure this doesn't happen again next year. Unfortunately, I don't have the space to rotate where I plant my tomatoes, so it is their current location or nothing :(

Thumbnail by redxtine
Click the image for an enlarged view.

LisaLu
Wildomar, CA
(Zone 9a)

August 4, 2008
12:39 AM

Post #5364672

Red:
Your plants look alot like mine, I have a call into my local county office to see if one of their "Master Gardeners" will come over and help me out. I have watched several of my plants shrivel up and die. It starts at the bottom, works it's way up even the tomatoes look funny! I'll keep you posted if anyone shows up! Good luck.

Thumbnail by LisaLu
Click the image for an enlarged view.

redxtine
Brooklyn, NY

August 4, 2008
12:50 AM

Post #5364716

Thanks LisaLu
please let me know what the "master gardener" thinks. Do you have the rust/dust stuff on your plants too?
I couldn't tell from the picture.
Here's what the plants look like - these are some of the worse-off ones.
I'm so sad - I"m hoping I'll at least get some tomatoes this year.

Thumbnail by redxtine
Click the image for an enlarged view.

LisaLu
Wildomar, CA
(Zone 9a)

August 4, 2008
1:09 AM

Post #5364800

Red:
I share your pain! Here's a photo of the "cancer patient", I ended up pulling it out.
The rust powder I'm not sure about. I have seen spider mites on some of the plants, even though I spray often, I'm so frustrated.

Thumbnail by LisaLu
Click the image for an enlarged view.

LisaLu
Wildomar, CA
(Zone 9a)

August 4, 2008
1:12 AM

Post #5364809

These are starting to show signs...

Thumbnail by LisaLu
Click the image for an enlarged view.

redxtine
Brooklyn, NY

August 4, 2008
2:02 AM

Post #5365085

Lisa -

Wow! You have a lot of tomato plants!!!
Yep, that's what they look like, except mine also have the rusty/dust stuff on them.
Your picture looks like something I saw called "walnut blight" - it happens if you plant
tomatoes too close to a walnut or butternut tree. Apparently the roots give off a substance
which is toxic to tomatoes.
I know that's not what's wrong with mine, though, because there are no walnut trees near me,
and one of them is in a large pot on the patio, so it can't be absorbing anything from the surrounding
soil, and it has the crud too.
Here's a close up pic of a leaf - you can see how just the leaflets are affected, not the branch part of the leaf that they are attached to.

Thumbnail by redxtine
Click the image for an enlarged view.

orchidman1
Deep Run, NC
(Zone 7b)

August 6, 2008
1:25 PM

Post #5376234

Your pictures suggest a viral wilt that is common in a large part of the Southeastern US. It begins when the plant begins to have tomatoes near ripening size and quickly spreads. Infected plants should be destroyed as there is no cure. Leaves turn inward from the bottom of the plant and then have a rust color sheen.
Carolyn
Salem, NY
(Zone 4b)

August 6, 2008
1:48 PM

Post #5376328

Your pictures suggest a viral wilt that is common in a large part of the Southeastern US. It begins when the plant begins to have tomatoes near ripening size and quickly spreads. Infected plants should be destroyed as there is no cure. Leaves turn inward from the bottom of the plant and then have a rust color sheen.

*****

What you're referring to is TSWV which is a problem some but not all years where you live and surrounding states but the poster lives in Brooklyn, NY and I'm not aware of TSWV being in our area.

Red, I'm not sure what the problem is but I do know that rust mites are found almost exclusively in CA.

Do you use well water or municipal water? Just curious.

Have you contacted your local Extension Service to discuss this with them and bring in samples from your infected plants?

Carolyn
orchidman1
Deep Run, NC
(Zone 7b)

August 6, 2008
2:23 PM

Post #5376548

Carolyn: Please take a look at some of the research materials from Cornell University concerning Viral Wilt. It has spread across the U.S., and is a problem in New York. Where thrifts can be carried on produce by truck, the problem can exist.
LisaLu
Wildomar, CA
(Zone 9a)

August 6, 2008
2:50 PM

Post #5376659

Carolyn:
What difference does well water make? I'm on well water (1st timer) and I've noticed large puffy white mushrooms popping up where things are damp, should I be worried? What else can be done about the mites? I sprayed with Malathion yesterday because I read that when I used the Sevin dust, I killed the bugs that eat the spider mites. Any help would be appreciated, I'm afraid I'm going to lose all 100 plants.
I have started more seeds, and I dont know where to plant them. How far away from the others would be safe if the plants are infected with the "wilt"?
Would a green house help?
LisaLu
redxtine
Brooklyn, NY

August 6, 2008
2:59 PM

Post #5376693

orchidman1 and Carolyn

Thank you so much for your replies!
When I prune off the leaves with the dead leaflets, the inside "stem" of the leaf is very healthy! No browning or anything, no discoloration at all, no desiccation. The problem seems to be limited to the exterior of the plant. Also, the plants keep producing healthy suckers, which are then overtaken by the disease once they produce a significant amount of leaves - the problem doesn't seem to be internal, it seems to be external.
When I look at pictures of TSWV, none of them have the rusty-type "dust" which seems to be the main feature of what is going on with my plants. I'll post some more pix below, but see the first pic on this post for a good example of it.
Carolyn - I use the water that comes out of the spigot in my backyard in Brooklyn - I assume this is municipal water.
Here's the thing - I live in Brooklyn, but I ordered my plants from a place in California :(
Do you think it is rust mites? I really hope I haven't inadvertently infected Brooklyn with rust mites...
What can I do if it is rust mites? It has wiped out my plants and I really don't want this to happen again next year. Are there any sprays or anything I could use on the 3 (barely) survivng plants?
I'm trying to be organic, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
I didn't know such things as Extension Services existed in urban areas like NYC! I'll definitely try to look them up and see if they can help.
Thanks in advance for any and all help!!!
Below is a pic where you can really see the "rust/dust" whatever it is piled up on a little green tomato.

Thumbnail by redxtine
Click the image for an enlarged view.

redxtine
Brooklyn, NY

August 6, 2008
3:01 PM

Post #5376703

Here's a pic of "the dust" on a stunted leaf

Thumbnail by redxtine
Click the image for an enlarged view.

redxtine
Brooklyn, NY

August 6, 2008
3:05 PM

Post #5376727

more dusty leaves

Thumbnail by redxtine
Click the image for an enlarged view.

LisaLu
Wildomar, CA
(Zone 9a)

August 6, 2008
3:05 PM

Post #5376728

Red:
They look just like mine! I'm waiting for a call back from my ext office, I'll let you know what they offer...
LisaLu
redxtine
Brooklyn, NY

August 6, 2008
3:06 PM

Post #5376740

wide shot of dying plant

Thumbnail by redxtine
Click the image for an enlarged view.

redxtine
Brooklyn, NY

August 6, 2008
3:09 PM

Post #5376751

Lisa

Please let me know what your ext office says - I need all the help I can get!
thanks
Carolyn
Salem, NY
(Zone 4b)

August 6, 2008
4:19 PM

Post #5377057

The natural occurrence of TSWV in the field is well documented and is a serious problem in many southern states. Infections on greenhouse bedding plants now present an additional threat to neighboring vegetable growers, to vegetable growers who acquire transplants from greenhouses, and to vegetable producers who grow a crop such as "hothouse" tomatoes to maturity. In several cases in New York, TSWV has spread from ornamental plants (e.g., hanging flower baskets) to vegetable transplants (tomato and pepper seedlings) and even into tomato greenhouse units established for the vine-ripe tomato crop.

*****

The above from the Cornell site on TSWV. Notice what has been said about TSWV in NYS. As I said above it isn't a problem up here in outside thrip acquired TSWV with the few cases being assicatied with ornamental and greenhouse transmission.

Here's the Cornell website:

http://vegetablemdonline.ppath.cornell.edu/factsheets/Virus_SpottedWilt.htm

I asked about well water b'c several times it's turned out that plants watered with well water look rusty from the rust found in some wells.

Carolyn
redxtine
Brooklyn, NY

August 6, 2008
4:42 PM

Post #5377155

Carolyn,

Thanks so much for the link to the Cornell website.
I read it over, but that doesn't look like what I have. There isn't really any "spotting"
just the dust and the leaves drying up and turning crispy. The vines themselves aren't
affected on the inside - they have the dust/rust looking stuff on them on the outside, but I pulled up one of the worst plants today and cut it open, and the stem on the inside was perfectly healthy.
I'm really beginning to think that something made the trip with these plants when they were shipped to me from California.
LisaLu
Wildomar, CA
(Zone 9a)

August 6, 2008
4:53 PM

Post #5377206

Red:
Looks like we're gonna have to pull 'em...I'll start with the worst ones first, then trim the dead leaves from the bottoms of the others. Do you think the fruit is safe to eat? I have soooo many green tomatoes, I just can't pull all of them. Next year I'll try a fungicide and I'll plant in a different spot. This is very discouraging.
LisaLu
redxtine
Brooklyn, NY

August 6, 2008
8:42 PM

Post #5377935

Lisa,

Did they say what it was? You said you'll try a fungicide next year, so I'm assuming they
told you it is a fungus? That's too bad that you'll have to pull them up.
I think the green tomatoes should be fine to eat. Fry them up:

http://www.recipezaar.com/244744

or here's a chutney
recipe I like to make at the end of each growing season:

http://www.recipezaar.com/11234

It's good with meats, cheeses, and on sandwiches.

Good luck with the rest of your plants!
Suze_

(Zone 7b)

August 6, 2008
8:55 PM

Post #5377970

Just a couple of quick general comments and suggestions directed to both posters.

If mites are the problem, you'll be able to find them somewhere on the plants after careful examination, especially on the undersides of the leaves. What I'm seeing in some of the pictures looks much like what I would expect to see from mite damage, which usually starts at the bottom of the plants, then progresses upward as the mites move up through the plants. Early signs of mite damage are dulling of the leaves (very easy to miss unless you are watching for it), then rasping (lighter colored spots) or russeting, depending on whether it is rust or spider mites. Even the early signs of rasping and russeting can be easy to miss. Frequently, folks don't notice a mite infestation until some of the bottom leaves have dried up and died, unless they've had problems with it in the past and know what to watch for early on.

Fungicides won't help with mites, nor would it help with TSWV - if that were the problem, and I don't think it is. See http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/p.php?pid=5182319 for some good pics of TSWV.

For mites, spray twice a week with a soap spray, neem oil, or a pyrethin based product until good control is obtained (usually at least a couple of weeks), then once a week thereafter. It is particularly important to cover every surface of the plant when treating, especially the undersides of the leaves. Once a mite infestation is well underway, it will kill plants if left untreated. Sometimes, severely damaged plants aren't salvageable, but it usually doesn't hurt to try to save them unless there are plants that haven't yet been infested elsewhere in the garden.

Periodic sprays with seaweed emulsion can also be helpful, see http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=seaweed mites&btnG=Google Search
redxtine
Brooklyn, NY

August 6, 2008
9:31 PM

Post #5378107

I think I have found it:

http://insects.tamu.edu/fieldguide/tomato_russet_mite.html

tomato russet mites :(
I think they hitched a ride to Brooklyn from sunny CA
Suze_

(Zone 7b)

August 6, 2008
10:38 PM

Post #5378415

I think your problem looks mite related - again, look for the mites on the undersides of the leaves to confirm it if you have not done so already. They can be hard to see. Sometimes a magnifying glass or hand lens can help. You probably won't find many on dead leaves, because they move up the plant once the damage is done below. Look on newer growth that's not yet crisped up.

OTOH, Lisa's situation could be a bit different. She might even have a combination of problems, both mites (which she's indicated she's seen) and perhaps even something viral. I say viral as a generality for now, but can't tell from the pictures which one it could be. I'm basing that on the stunted growth and shoestringing of leaves I *think* I see. It does not look like TSWV to me though, but a closeup picture in good focus would be helpful in terms maybe narrowing it down.

But maybe what I am seeing is just rolling leaves because the plants are stressed (which mites can definitely cause). Again, hard for me to tell from the pictures posted so far.
redxtine
Brooklyn, NY

August 7, 2008
2:27 AM

Post #5379537

Suze,

Thanks for the info - it is definitely mite related, and the more research I've done the
more convinced I am that it is tomato russet mites. All of the symptoms are there.
I've removed all the infected-looking foliage, and I sprayed the remaining healthy foliage with an
organic spray containing sulfur, which is what all the info I've seen says to do for these tomato russet
mites. Don't know if it will save the plants, but it is worth a try.
Thanks to everyone for all the help!

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